by Thom Van Vleck
Next year I turn 50. When I was a kid I remember when my grandmother turned 50 and she made it out like she was practically dead! On the other hand I am enjoying life quite a bit as of late. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been to be honest. I’m healthy, I like my work, my marriage the best ever. All my kids are teenagers and yet we get along very well. Life is good. I have nothing to complain about as I roll into the 2nd half of life should I live to be 100.
I also am working out as hard as I ever have. But there have been adjustments in how I measure progress. When I was young I needed to have actual “progress” in my progressive resistance to be happy. When I was 30 I benched 360. I worked my bench for a year and then I maxed out and hit 365. When I was 30….that was a major disappointment. There was also a time when I squatted 400 and then spent a solid year focusing on my squat and ended at 600! That was great progress!
As I bear down on 50 my idea of progress has changed. It would be unrealistic for me to look at adding 200lbs to any lift….except maybe some heavy lift in the USAWA. I am now at a point in my life where holding the line is a huge victory for me. I push pressed 300 for the first time almost 20 years ago. Every so often I do a few and I seem to always hit 300….but my long ago goal of 400 will not likely happen. I throw in the highland games and I’m throwing as well or better than I ever have….but setting personal bests are few and far between. I also understand that the day will come when I will set my last personal record. Then my idea of progress will have to change again.
At that point, it will be begrudgingly giving up my strength. Mark my words, I plan on going down swinging. But I know I’ll eventually go down. I recall trying to get a buddy that had been a good lifter in his 20’s to try masters lifting. His comment was, “I want to be good….not good for my age”. While I can appreciate that statement, I’ll tell you that I’m happy to be good for my age!
So as I get older my idea of progress will adjust. Otherwise it will all become an exercise (no pun intended) in futility. My Uncle Phil once asked me, “Why do you continue to train when you know someday age and time will take it all away”. Of course he knew the answer and was just challenging me as he so often has in my life. To me it’s like climbing a mountain. Once you are at the top, the only way to go after that is down. But I would rather enjoy the view as from up high as long as I can. Not everyone gets to the top but everyone eventually finds the bottom. Life is a precious gift and I plan on sliding into my grave sideways someday as they say….well worn and yelling what a ride!